I’ve never been a fan of medical shows. It’s partially because I’m squeamish. There needs to be some way for TV shows to warn their viewers that an upsetting shot is approaching. Is there an app for that yet? I also get stressed out watching doctors on the job. There’s so much running and frantic yelling. Not only does it make me anxious; it also makes me feel ashamed that I’m sitting on the couch eating fun size candy bars two weeks before Halloween.
However, something rare happened when I saw the Emily Owens, M.D. promos on The CW. I couldn’t wait to watch it. I was mostly interested in the show’s star, Mamie Gummer.
I’m just going to get this out there now, because it’s practically obligatory. Mamie Gummer is the daughter of Meryl Streep. That’s right, the same Meryl Streep who practically has a space reserved for her in the Best Actress category at the Oscars every year, who wears a cozy wrap sweater like no one else can, and who manages to make that “Oh, little ol’ me?” face endearing and not groan-worthy. (I’m looking at you, Taylor Swift.)
But I’m not here to compare Gummer to her mom (Let’s be honest, no one stands a chance against Meryl), because the young actress holds her own. In short, she’s hilarious and adorable and relatable, and I want to be her best friend.
Gummer plays Emily Owens, an intern at Denver Memorial Hospital, where she is embarrassed to cross paths with not only her med school crush Will (Justin Hartley), but her high school nemesis Cassandra (Aja Naomi King). Emily handles the stressful situation through a voiceover which alternates between inner monologue and narration. Usually, I think voiceovers are unnecessary and corny. Why not just show us what’s happening or what characters feel? In this case, the voiceover is one of my favorite parts of the show, because Gummer performs it so well. She doesn’t sound like she’s reading from a script in a recording booth a month after shooting a scene, sipping from her Starbucks cup in between sentences. Her delivery is funny and vibrant, and the thoughts really sound as if they’re happening in her head at that moment.
The quirky writing doesn’t hurt, either, of course. Jennie Snyder Urman, who created the show and wrote the pilot (and who also wrote for the very witty Gilmore Girls), uses smile-inducing words like “ooky” and gives Emily clever phrases to say, like “wicked bitch of the west wing” to describe Cassandra.
Mamie Gummer is such a natural, nuanced actress. I marvel at her ability to adorn her delivery with subtle facial expressions and different tones of voice which say so much more than her words alone can. I’m convinced she could read any page of dialogue and make me fall in love with her.
Granted, the show as a whole features a lot of overused plotlines. Of course there is a revered, experienced doctor (played by Necar Zadegan) with no bedside manner who begrudgingly accepts the new intern’s unorthodox approach to medicine. Of course Emily’s nemesis tells a story from her past that makes her sympathetic. And of course there’s that age-old juggling of work and romance.
But there’s Mamie. And there’s a sweet doctor (Michael Rady) who likes her and a fun friend (Kelly McCreary) for her to confide in. And there’s Mamie.
Mamie Gummer carried this pilot, and if she carries the show for seasons to come, I’ll be there scurrying behind her, showering her with compliments and asking her if she needs anything. A glass of water? Someone to hang out with at the mall? A plus-one to her mom’s birthday party?
(Photo: Joy Hog)